If you’re feeling the need for some “away” time, there’s no better escape than to gather two or three of your BFFs and head to Sonoma Wine Country. Leave everyday responsibilities behind. Spend a couple days feeding your soul.

Make this a weekend of things you love giving your time to — deepening friendships, making memories, connecting — and of course, eating, drinking, and shopping too! Go ahead and get your hair and mani/pedi done before your girlfriends’ weekend. This way you can compare nail color, and then move on to sharing in-the-moment experiences with your besties.

To make it easy for you, we’ve created a play-by-play itinerary of what to do, where to go, and tips for keeping it close.

Girlfriends’ Weekend in Healdsburg 

Thursday Night

So you’re rolling into town Thursday evening. Start with a designer cocktail and a savory something from the bistro menu at Gallery Bar in Studio Barndiva. Enjoy a sense of belonging inside this just-right ambience where you can catch up on headlines from your friends’ “Quarterly Report.”

Next, head to your HB Experience vacation home to fully decompress. Exhale, and welcome the good life. Say your gratitude “prayers.” Take time to let your besties know how much you value their friendship.

Friday Morning

Before you come into town for the weekend, ask the HB Experience staff to stock your fridge in advance. Let them know what you want to have on hand. Be sure to request fresh bread from Healdsburg’s Costeaux Bakery for breakfast.

Friday Afternoon

This is your day to indulge in Wine Country good living! Catch up with your friends and create indelible memories, but leave the planning to us. You can arrange in advance to have HB Experience Concierge Services take care of your itinerary. Enjoy a personalized wine tour and tasting created by our expert sommelier. After meeting you at your door, the driver/wine expert will guide your wine tasting adventure!

Friday Evening

After sipping your way through the rolling hills of Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, it feels good to relax in the comfort of your vacation home. So tonight, come home to dinner prepared by a private chef. Our Concierge makes all the arrangements for a meal that fits your tastes. Sharing this ultimate farm-to-table experience with your friends makes it even better.

Saturday Morning

Start off early, while the day’s still cool and quiet. The Flying Goat opens at 7:00 — it’s okay, though, you can shoot for 8:00. But you won’t want to wait too long for the best coffee in town. There are two Goats, just a couple doors apart from each other (that’s how good the coffee is), but go to the original at 324 Center St. Be sure to get a scone too!

Grab your Provençal shopping basket and reusable bags for fresh produce and next head to the Healdsburg Farmer’s Market. Stroll through the stalls for fresh and local food delicacies for tonight’s dinner chez vous. (Check out our blog on putting together a charcuterie board!) Taste your way through the market, sharing bites and nibbles with friends.

Saturday Afternoon

If you need a little extra to keep you going, stop in at The Shed on West North St, just off the plaza for kombucha on tap. (How cool is that!) Check out the gourmet kitchen and garden shop, and maybe buy yourself — or your girlfriend — a little gift.

Next, head back to your HB Experience vacation rental. Take time to chill, refresh, and regroup. It’s time for yoga with your besties — right in your home! Let HB Experience schedule your private yoga class. Take an hour to just “be” where you are.

Saturday Evening

Now it’s time to give it up to good times. Open a couple bottles, arrange a platter of yummy treats, and take it outside. Watch time slow down as the evening folds into night. Friends living life in the moment, sharing stories and laughs under the clear, starlit sky.

Sunday Afternoon

Allow the day to develop slowly. Savor coffee and leftover crostini while you lounge outdoors, easing gently into the afternoon. When you’re ready to get moving, put on your walking shoes and enjoy the fresh air. Check out our tips for walking around Healdsburg Wine Country.

But what would a girl’s weekend be without a little shopping? Walk along Healdsburg Ave between Mill and Piper streets, and circle the Plaza. Don’t miss One World Fair Trade for cool, global wares. Stop in at Fideaux, an over-the-top shop for pet accessories. And, of course, there are lots of clothing boutiques. No big-name stores here. Take home local, artisanal, handmade items that will remind you of your special girlfriends’ weekend.

Before you head back home, reflect on your favorite moments of this fun-filled weekend together. Make a commitment to do it again soon!

Luxury home rentals

Luxury vacation rentals experiences. We want your vacation experience to be more than a getaway. Enjoy from wine tasting tours to a personally tailored guided hike. Contact us for more information!

Wine Country — a foodie’s paradise

Did you know that foodies are everywhere? A foodie is a crossbreed. You can be a jock, an artist, or a go-getter and, at the same time, appreciate good food and drink. Almost everyone likes to sample and compare culinary experiences. In fact, that’s exactly what entices so many to visit Sonoma and Napa Wine Country.

Culinary tourism is defined as the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.  And the experiences are always changing — new recipes, new vintages, new flavors, new seasonal ingredients. And with so many restaurants, food events, and ways to immerse yourself in the food scene, people keep people coming back.

More and more travelers are choosing their destination because of specific restaurants they want to visit. Shopping and culture are secondary. And unlike museums or architectural sites, which are more or less always the same, sort of a “been there, done that” sort of thing, food and drink offer a new sensory experience every time. And foodies love to share.

Food tourism is about experiencing local gastronomy with friends — farm to table eateries, breweries, wineries, cheese shops, markets, harvest dinners, and wine tastings, as well as learning about food and interesting food and wine pairings. And we’re not just talking about gourmet food. Foodies are keen to taste their way through a new city’s street vendors and food carts. The emphasis is local.

Wine Country offers up lots of ways to immerse yourself into its foodie paradise. So make yourself at home at an HB Experience luxury vacation rental. Use it as your home base to explore local food and drink. Here are three ways to deep dive into the local food experience: tasting tours, cooking classes, farmer’s markets.

  1. Guided Food & Wine Tasting Tours

One way to experience the flavor of Sonoma and Napa Wine Country is to join a walking tour. You’ll find several options to choose from online. Although each tour has its own spin, the common thread is sharing delicious food and drink with others. This is a fun way to find out what a local foodie is up to and enjoy fresh, seasonal food and local beer and wine. Plus, because the itinerary is planned out, it’s easy.  Here are a couple of tours we recommend:

Wine Country Walking Tours — Healdsburg

Stroll around downtown Healdsburg and satisfy your taste buds on this easygoing, guided wine and food pairing walking tour. Perfect for a real foodie!

Gourmet Food and Wine Tours — Sonoma / Yountville

Here are a couple fun tours nearby Calistoga. There’s an interesting guided tour that couples wine or beer tasting with the history of the town of Sonoma.  And they offer a guided food and wine tour in Yountville, the foodie heart of Napa Wine Country, which highlights Michelin-guide restaurants.

  1. Cooking Classes and Demonstrations

To immerse yourself in the “foodism” of Wine Country, why not check out a cooking class or demonstration? There’s nothing like getting hands-on with local produce to fully experience the bounty of this rich agricultural wine land. There are plenty of opportunities where you’re welcome to play with your food. The ones below are within easy reach of your Wine Stay vacation home.

Relish Culinary — Healdsburg

Located in the center of Healdsburg, this is where you can learn about food and wine at cooking classes taught by local chefs or attend culinary events that will inspire your cooking!

Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — Napa

Close by Calistoga is the renowned Napa culinary arts school, which also offers a full calendar of food demos and hand-on classes at Copia food and wine center in the town of Napa — a delightful way to explore wine and food.

  1. Farmer’s Markets

If you’re inspired to whip up your own meal in the privacy and comfort of your vacation rental, shopping local markets is the way to go. Just about every town in Wine Country hosts a farmer’s market. Products are always farm fresh and seasonally ripe, and often organic. Some markets include handcrafts from local artisans, as well as entertainment. The markets below are held Tuesdays and Saturdays. Pick out your favorite ingredients and get cooking!

Farmer’s Market — Healdsburg

Shop for fresh-from-the-farm produce, meats, cheeses, honey, and much more. Snack on food to-go, enjoy entertainment — a true foodie’s paradise.

See our blog post for more about the Healdsburg Farmer’s Market.

Farmer’s Market — Napa

Frequented by locals and tourists alike, this market often hosts food demos, offers gardening info, specialty foods, in-season produce, and handmade items and homemade goodies.

It’s no surprise that tourism is a huge global industry. People love to experience new surroundings, from basking on tropical beaches to exploring ancient ruins. There’s a new trend in travel — ecotourism — that appeals to those who want to submerge themselves in the natural environment.

Ecotourism in Sonoma

What is ecotourism? According to The Nature Conservancy, “Ecotourism is distinguished by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveler responsibility and active community participation.” In other words, ecotourism is about respecting natural environments and keeping them intact.

More and more businesses describe themselves as offering ecotours, but you don’t have to join an official tour to be an ecotourist. All you need to enjoy ecotourism is an appreciation of nature’s beauty and the desire to leave a small footprint behind. Feel the sunshine, breathe in fresh air, be part of the local habitat, and when you leave take your trash away with you and leave everything as you found it, for the next person — and generation — to enjoy.

Ecotourism in Sonoma and Napa offer a bounty of unspoiled countryside and opportunity for outdoor fun. Wine Country and ecotourism go hand in glove. There’s a large movement toward environmental awareness in Northern California; people want to preserve the beauty. There are plenty of opportunities to get close in to nature and dive into the ecotourism in Sonoma.

Ways to Experience Wine Country au Naturel

Take a hike  

The nonprofit organization, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, was founded on the principles of ecotourism in Sonoma long before the term was even coined. They partner with California State Parks, offering eco-classes and managing the preservation of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, more than 800 acres of majestic Coast Redwoods, and the nearly 6,000 acre Austin Creek State Recreation Area. This pristine natural habitat includes shady redwood forests and meandering streams. Austin Creek offers twenty miles of trails and magnificent vistas as you traverse the rugged hillsides. An eco-paradise for hikers — and equestrians.

Saddle up

Gorgeous Lake Sonoma spreads across 2,700 acres of rolling, oak-studded hills in northern Sonoma County, just a short jaunt from downtown Healdsburg. Check out The Ranch at Lake Sonoma to enjoy the area on horseback. They provide all the gear and lead you on guided rides along gentle trails. Wine Country horseback riding is a one-of-a-kind experience of untouched countryside that you just can’t see any other way.

The Ranch at Lake Sonoma

Kayak coast and river

Want to submerge yourself in Wine Country’s natural environment? Rent a kayak and experience life outdoors. Guaranteed to slow down your pace and relax you, skimming the waters of the Sonoma Coast and Russian River offers a unique perspective of the environment that’s not to be missed. Keep your eyes open for egrets, deer, seals, and a large variety of wildlife as you quietly paddle through the water — a sublime eco-experience!

Smart Tours

WaterTreks EcoTours

Cycle the backroads

To fully engage yourself in your surroundings, hop on a bicycle and peddle the roads of Sonoma, Calistoga, Napa, and Healdsburg. And there’s so much to see — lush vineyards, bright sky, undulating hillsides. Bicycling puts you up close and personal with the environment. It’s low-profile ecotourism that always satisfies. Rent the bike you like, and hit the roads. You can take a guided tour or explore on your own. Cycling barely disturbs the environment, but be sure to leave nothing behind for a lightweight footprint.

Calistoga Bike Shop

Sonoma Valley Bike Tours

Visit a working farm

Sonoma County's Farm Trails invites you to learn from local farmers. Every year, Farm Trails farmers open their gates to offer a behind-the-scenes peek at life on the farm. This year the farms are open to the public during the weekend of October 13 and 14. At other times of year, many of the farms let you schedule an appointment to visit the farm in person. Their website has a detailed map that you can filter by product or region. Visiting farms makes for a fun experience for the entire family. It doesn’t get more eco and educational than visiting an active farm — often organic, always local, with high-quality produce of all types, from fragrant lavender to the plump berries.

Luxury home rentals

Luxury vacation rentals experiences. We want your vacation experience to be more than a getaway. Enjoy from wine tasting tours to a personally tailored guided hike. Contact us for more information!

Endless vistas of rolling hills, vineyards, redwoods, and oak-studded grassland soothe your soul. Fresh air enlivens you. While deer graze quietly and jack rabbits nibble nearby, a sense of calm overtakes you. You gladly surrender to the magnificent beauty of Wine Country backlands.

If you’ve been enjoying a few days of wine tasting, you’ve discovered how many great wineries are tucked throughout the countryside around Healdsburg, Calistoga, and the Pacific Coast. Whether it’s wine, beer, cider, cheese, or organic produce, a day of tasting brings you close to the pristine countryside and great outdoors. But maybe you’re ready for a deeper dive into nature. Sonoma and Napa counties offer thousands of acres of hiking trails, from flat pastureland to steep mountain treks.

Getting in close to nature awakens your senses. It’s enlivening and puts you right in the moment. Not only does hiking help quiet your mind, it helps you connect with yourself and those you’re sharing the experience with. So why not recharge yourself with some delicious “soul food”? Taste the ideal complement to Wine Country’s world-class foods and wines!

Here are a few of our favorite local hikes in Sonoma. Each one is an easy drive from your HB Experience vacation home. So lace up your shoes, grab your sunscreen and water bottle, and enjoy!

Hikes in Sonoma

Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

http://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Visit/Taylor-Mountain-Regional-Park-and-Preserve/

If you want an easy hike that won’t last all day, check out this park southeast of downtown Santa Rosa. Traverse grassy hillsides, oak chaparral, and creeks along 5.5 miles of trails. Spend the morning in nature, and then indulge in an afternoon of wine tasting!

Jack London State Historic Park

http://www.jacklondonpark.com/index.html

This park has something for everyone. Built around the home of renown novelist and adventurer Jack London, there are 20 miles of trails through forests and redwood groves and open meadows. Visit the many historic buildings, bring a picnic lunch, and make a day of it. Great for the whole family.

Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve/Austin Creek

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450

Experience the majestic coastal redwoods at this well-maintained natural reserve. Self-guided nature trails, picnic areas, and space to run around make this a fun destination for you and the kids. Hikes range from short and easy trails to steep and strenuous. Climb the Austin Creek trails to Bullfrog Pond for views you cannot see from any other vantage point.

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=472

Trek through forests and chaparral and, if you’re feeling it, climb the five-mile trail to the top of Mount St. Helena. The views of the San Francisco Bay Area will make your effort pay off. You can see all the way to Mount Shasta, nearly 200 miles away, on a clear day! Just a few miles north of Calistoga on HWY 29, it’s a good choice for a morning hike followed by an easygoing afternoon of lunch and wine tasting.

California Coastal Trail/Kortum Trail

http://www.californiacoastaltrail.info/hikers/hikers_main.php?DisplayAction=DisplayCounty&CountyId=5

Over half of the Sonoma coastline is dotted with hiking trails that afford magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and pebbly beaches. In springtime, the blooming wildflowers are not to be missed! The Kortum Trail has a well-maintained stretch from Wright’s Beach north to the bluffs above Shell Beach. About two miles roundtrip, this easy hike is ideal for a couple to share a romantic afternoon together.

Luxury home rentals

Luxury vacation rentals experiences. We want your vacation experience to be more than a getaway. Enjoy from wine tasting tours to a personally tailored guided hike. Contact us for more information!

With breathtaking views, diverse population, great cultural experiences, and, of course, an array of wine tasting rooms, the Wine Country has all the makings for an incredible vacation destination. Napa Valley alone plays host to more than 3 million tourists, which includes lone travelers, couples, and families.

To make your visit to the Wine Country smooth and pleasant, consider these useful tips:

  1. Check Out the Weather

If you are traveling to the Wine Country, you may want to consider a time of year when it’s reliably warm. Napa Valley faces its peak tourist season from August to October, when the late-summer weather is perfect for travel. But the Wine Country is stunningly beautiful any time of year.  Just be sure you’re prepared if the weather turns crisp or damp.

  1. Dress to Relax

The Wine Country is known for its casual, easygoing lifestyle. Casual pants or jeans are de rigueur, although a sports jacket for men and a little bling for women fit in well for dinner at the finer restaurants. Keep in mind that wine tasting tours can involve walking, so bring along some comfortable shoes. If you have planned outdoor adventures such as hot air balloon rides or horseback riding, make sure you have appropriate clothing.

  1. Plan Your Accommodations

For the solo traveler or couple who prefers last-minute travel, a hotel is typically the ideal choice. However, if you take a little time to plan ahead, booking a vacation rental is by far the better way to go. You get more space, convenience, and privacy for less money.  The HB Experience offers several top-of-class vacation rentals — something for everyone. Plus, you can take advantage of the Concierge Services, such as custom wine tasting itineraries, meal prep at your vacation home, arranging outdoor adventures, and much more.

  1. Don’t Overdo Your Itinerary

Don’t try to fit everything in one vacation. Pick and choose which wineries you want to visit. Look into the tasting rooms’ wine listings to help you short-list places that produce your favorite blends. Usually, three tasting rooms are enough for a wonderfully enjoyable afternoon. You’ll get more out of your time in the Wine Country if you do less. Turn down the throttle, savor the experience, and create lasting memories.

  1. Be Flexible

One of the keys to success for any travel is being able to go with the flow. Just not feeling like more wine tasting? Take a gourmet tasting and shopping detour, or visit local galleries and boutiques. Rent a bike or stroll through the countryside. If the sky clouds up, snuggle up at your vacation home and watch your favorite series. Your travel plans may not all be achieved to the point, and that is okay. Live in the moment to have a great trip!

Luxury home rentals

Luxury vacation rentals experiences. We want your vacation experience to be more than a getaway. Enjoy from wine tasting tours to a personally tailored guided hike. Contact us for more information!

Dreamy sceneries of rolling hills, beautiful fields and vineyards, luxury vacation homes, quaint eateries, and aromatic wine tasting rooms—Napa Valley has it all.

The Wine Country region is a favorite vacation destination for Californian tourists, recorded to have played host to over 3 million visitors in each of the past few years. You will not find a better mix of outdoor and indoor fun than in this charming grape-growing region of Northern California.

Ready to find out for yourself why all the hype? We have harvested a list of fun things in the Napa Valley that you don’t want to miss.

Olive Your Trip

Plan a tasting tour—only this tour involves greens and blacks instead of reds and whites. Olive oil production is one of the many highlights of the Wine Country.

If you’re in town, check out the Olive Mill or Napa Valley Olive Oil at Oxbow Market. There are opportunities to visit olive orchards where mill owners will be happy to show you the production process and let you sample exquisite oils. Round Pond Estate is worth a visit. Pick up a bottle of locally produced oil for preparing your own savory meal back at your vacation rental!

De-Stress and Detox

The area is a treasure of natural hot springs, which you find toward the northern end of the Napa Valley, particularly in Calistoga. The spring baths combine perfectly steaming water and a wealth of natural minerals to create a rejuvenating experience for anyone ready for a break.

(Good news: most of the natural springs survived the recent firestorms and are open for business. ) You’ll find info online. You might want to take a look at Indian Springs or Calistoga Spa. Indulge!

Namaste to Wine

You don’t have to be a dedicated yogi to take part in one of the yoga retreats offered in the Wine Country. The climate in this prime grape-growing region makes a perfect environment for those who need to tune out the rest of the world and simply om their way to relaxation after a long wine tour.

There are loads of opportunities to sit in on a yoga class, meditation, or spiritual lecture. Check ahead online, or just take a look at the bulletin board at the local market for a flyer of what’s available.

Pass Through Nature


The entirety of the Land Trust of Napa County is open to the public for various outdoors activities, which include biking, hiking, and kayaking. If you are looking to get your fill of a fitness regime, a whopping 55,000 acres of this land is at your disposal. The area also hosts guided tours and hikes in certain seasons.

A 15-mile guided hike around the gorgeous Dunn Ranches and Dunn-Wildlake Preserve offers perfect birds-eye views of both St. Helena and Calistoga. Whether by car, bicycle or foot, the Wine Country’s landscape of rolling hills and fertile valleys is sure to soothe your mind and excite your senses.

New Country Cuisine

Diverting their menu away from the traditional Napa Valley cuisine, there are many restaurants here where you can experience both casual and fine dining.

If you’re looking for a good brunch, visit Archetype. In downtown, Morimoto Napa brings the perfect combination of seafood and sake to the Wine Country, and you can feast on their popular spicy king crab, toro tartare, and sticky ribs.

A Wining Escapade

Make plans for a guided wine tasting, anywhere before, after, or in between other trips around Napa Valley. There are hundreds of wineries, so it pays to to do your homework. Better still, let someone you trust help you choose which vineyard tasting rooms to visit.

At The HB Experience, we offer wine tasting tours in Napa Valley, as well as Sonoma Valley. Let us guide you to the establishments of some of the finest winemakers of California, where you can sample world-renown reds and whites.

Reach out to us today. We will arrange a luxury vacation home and an excellent wine tour to make sure your time in Napa Valley is unforgettable!

As the long days and warm afternoons continue through summer into early fall, a drive through the Sonoma Wine Country promises an easygoing pace amid the beautiful vineyards of Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. There couldn’t be a better time for leisurely wine tasting, and how better to cool down than with Sauvignon Blanc.

Many Healdsburg Wine Country winemakers produce Sauvignon Blanc — a green-grape varietal, known as Sancerre in its original home of France — so tasting room options abound. But to narrow down the list of which wineries to visit, why not look to the Harvest Fair award winners?

As you may know, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair hosts the largest regional wine competition in the United States. Now in its 43rd year, this annual event features local wineries that produce wines exclusively from grapes bearing a Sonoma County AVA. More than 100 Sonoma County wineries — and many hundreds of wines — are entered in the competition this year in hopes of taking home the gold.

The wines are judged by a panel of tasting experts from across the country, and winning is a big feather in the cap of those lucky, select local vintners. It’s also a good bet that previous-year winners will have current vintages you’ll want to get to know.

With the 2017 Harvest Fair only a few weeks away, there’s just enough time to reacquaint yourself to this varietal’s “green” flavors — sometimes herbal, citrus, or grassy. Always refreshing, the crisp, clean taste comes from its low level of sugar and high acidity. Recently, Wine Spectator writer, Matt Kramer, called Sauvignon Blanc “the world’s most reliably good dry white wine.

Here are some winery suggestions for tasting Sauvignon Blanc. Each is a recent Sonoma County Harvest Fair award winner. Sauv Blanc pairs well with light food, and it has an affordable price point, making it perfect for lunch. So why not pack a picnic, visit all three tasting rooms, and make a day of it! I suggest you start with J. Rickards at the north end, and then wind your way south to your comfortable vacation rental in Healdsburg.

3 Award-Winning Wineries for Sauvignon Blanc

Rickards Winery (2016)
www.jrwinery.com
24505 Chianti Road, Cloverdale
Tasting Room Open: Monday – Saturday, 11:00 – 4:00

The first vines of this family-run winery, owned and operated by Jim and Eliza Rickards, were planted 40 years ago. Since 2011, Blaine Brazil has been their chief winemaker. Located at the northern end of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, you might want to make this your first tasting stop.

Trione Vineyards (2015)
www. trionewinery.com
19550 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville
Tasting Room Open: Thursday – Monday, 10:00 – 5:00

Trione Winery, another family business, was established in 2005. They craft small lots of wine from estate-grown grapes and handle all aspects of winemaking, from harvest to barrel. Their head winemaker is Scot Covington. If you start your wine tasting at the north end, then Trione’s Geyserville tasting room would be a good next stop on your way south.

Selby Winery (2014)
www.selbywinery.com
215 Center Street, Healdsburg
Tasting Room Open: Daily 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Since 1992, winemaker/owner Susie Selby has been perfecting the art of winemaking. Selby makes handcrafted, small-batch wines from grapes grown on sustainably farmed vineyards in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys. You’ll find the tasting room in the center of downtown Healdsburg.

By the way, if you can, plan on joining the fun at the 2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The hub of the fair is the Tasting Pavilion, where there’s wine — and beer, cider, and food pairings — to sample. Wine lovers will want to design a weekend around this opportunity to taste the best of the Sonoma Wine Country. And if you haven’t nabbed your vacation home rental for this year, it’s not too soon to look to 2018 — keep your ears open for the announcement of next year’s dates.

2017 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
Friday, October 6 — Sunday, October 8
For more info: www.harvestfair.org

A little luck and a lot of art go into winemaking. Myriad factors affect the final product, from climate and weather conditions to pruning and cultivation of the vines, not to mention what’s involved after the grapes are harvested. With so many variables, hats off to those wineries that eschew modern farming practices, which include pesticides and chemicals, for a back-to-basics approach to agriculture.

Not surprisingly, Sonoma County wineries are at the forefront of the movement to create stellar-quality wines au naturel. The Wine Country is home to several biodynamic and organic wineries across appellations, each stewarding a more sustainable agricultural future by growing diverse crops, using compost for fertilizer, and taking a holistic approach to farming.

Well worth a visit for their wines, as well as their ecological farming practices, here are three Dry Creek Valley organic wineries you’ll want to add to your wine-tasting adventures. They each welcome visitors to take a look around their farms — rural, organic, beautiful. You may want to pick up a bottle or two to enjoy with your dinner back at your vacation home!

Get to know those Organic Wineries


Preston Farm & Winery

Certified organic and biodynamic, Preston Farm and Winery is a family-managed ecosystem that produces a variety of crops, including vineyards, vegetables, fruit and olive trees, grain, and pastured livestock. Their approach to farming harks back to the wisdom of earlier times when agriculture was less intrusive and more in tune with natural growing patterns.

At Preston, they harvest grapes by hand and ferment their wines naturally. And, of course, all the grapes that go into their wines are grown on their land. Handcrafting single varietals as well as artful blends, the winemakers focus on producing well-balanced wines whose taste reflects the true character of the grape. They believe that the less they do to the grapes, the more true to its inherent nature the wine will be.

Preston wines include Petite Sirah, Grenache, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and other blends. Their signature Madame Preston makes the perfect complement to a summer picnic.

Preston Farm & Winery — 9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California


DaVero Farms & Winery

This certified biodynamic ecosystem began in 1990 as an olive orchard, with trees imported from Tuscany. Though still known today for its world-renown olive oils, DaVero has also made a name for itself as winemaker, specializing in Italian varietals.

With a method of growing that fosters thriving, healthy soil and renewing the land, DaVero raises grapes, as well as olive and fruit trees, lavender, and chickens, pigs, and sheep.

Wines are fermented naturally, relying on yeasts naturally found on the grapes instead of adding commercial yeasts. And wines are aged in seasoned, non-oak barrels. Their style of winemaking is old world — a bit of the Italian countryside here in its sister terroir of Sonoma Wine Country.

DaVero happily gives tours of its farm and winery. Call ahead to make plans, learn what biodynamic farming means and how it’s important, and taste great wines. Special Italian varietals include Carignano, Primitivo, and Vermentino.

DavVero Farms & Winery — 766 Westside Road, Healdsburg, California


Quivira Vineyards

For years, Quivira has been committed to preserving the health of the land through holistic and sustainable farming practices. Relying on biodynamic principles to create a self-sustaining environment in the vineyards and gardens, they make their own compost and use cover crops to keep the land naturally fertile.

“The vineyard is only as healthy as the compost that nourishes it”: Quivira believes biodiverse farming makes for better wine, as well as a better eco-environment. The winery estate is home to beehives, pigs, cows, chickens — they even generate their own electricity.

Visit their tasting room to sample Zinfandel, Rhone varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, and other distinctive handcrafted wines. They also have a lovely outdoor seating area. Buy a bottle to go with your picnic and enjoy the good life of Sonoma Wine Country!

Quivira Vineyards — 4900 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California

Luxury home rentals

Luxury vacation rentals experiences. We want your vacation experience to be more than a getaway. Enjoy from wine tasting tours to a personally tailored guided hike. Contact us for more information!

Wine bottles come in many shapes and sizes. When you’re at the wine shop looking for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, naturally you scan the shelves to find the clear bottles of white wine. What you might not realize is that you are also looking for a certain type of bottle. Each wine varietal can be identified by the shape of its bottle.

There are at least 12 different wine bottle shapes, each particular to a varietal and its origin. These bottle types originated back in 18th century Europe. Each wine-making region was identified by its own distinctive type of bottle. Today these bottle shapes are used for wines from around the world and have nothing to do with the original European regions. But tradition reigns on.

When we talk about the shape of a bottle, we refer to its neck, shoulders, and body—slender or squat, sloped shoulders or square. The shape doesn’t affect the quality or flavor of wine. Although the shape may have played a role in catching sediment of unfiltered wines of the past.

Glass color varies too. The bottle may be dark or light, usually with dark green glass for reds and clear or light glass for whites. The punt is what you call the dimple in the bottom of the bottle. It is a vestige of old-world bottles whose glass was blown by hand. The history is unclear, but one thing is agreed upon, the punt is for decoration only today. Some think that a punt denotes quality and that flat-bottomed bottles are just for the cheap labels, but that’s only a myth. Chances are that the punt was more practical than aesthetic, helping to keep imperfect bottles upright.

Wine bottle shapes in California

Bourdeaux (France)
The typical Bourdeaux bottle is straight and tall with squared-off shoulders. You’ll find it used for Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Burgundy (France)
Similar to Bourdeaux but with sloping shoulders and a bit fatter bottom, this familiar shape is known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Mosel or Alsace (Germany and northern France)
Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers will be found is this distinctly tall, slender bottle with a very long neck and no shoulders.

And, of course, size matters. Bring a split to enjoy with your sandwich or break out a magnum for a special dinner at your home with friends. Large wine bottles are unexpected and announce celebration.

But bottle size also influences the flavor of wine. The neck is small, no matter how much wine the bottle holds. This means that the effect of the oxygen in the neck of the bottle will be less on a larger volume of wine. The bigger the bottle, the slower it ages—and the longer it keeps. That’s one reason you typically find a few large-format bottles in a serious wine lover’s collection.

Don’t think by buying volume you’re getting more for your buck. Just the opposite. Large bottles cost more. They’re snazzy and fun, but you’ll want to be sure you will be able to drink it all once it’s opened.

Piccolo or split¼ bottle187.5 mL
Demi or half½ bottle375 mL
Standard1 bottle750 mL
Magnum2 bottles1.5 L
Jeroboam4 bottles3 L
Methuselah or Imperial8 bottles6 L
Salmanazar12 bottles9 L
Balthazar16 bottles12 L
Nabuchadnezzar20 bottles15 L

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